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10 Books to read before 50th anniversary of JFK’s death

This Friday is the 50th anniversary of the earth-shattering day in Dallas when President Kennedy was assassinated. For those who are interested in learning more about the events that unfolded 50 years ago, we have 10 great books about Kennedy’s life and assassination.


Where Were You? America Remembers the JFK Assassination

Edited by Gus Russo and Harry Moses, with a foreword by Tom Brokaw

Where Were You?

For decades after traumatic events like Kennedy’s assassination or 9/11, people ask one another, “Where were you?” This oral history is a companion to the NBC documentary of the same name, and its real strength is in the editorial decisions that went into it. The book represents the memories of a wide range of Americans, including those with a variety of opinions as to what really happened.


The Warren Commission Report:
The Official Report of the President’s Commission
on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

The U.S. Government

The Warren Commission Report

Whether or not you take this report at face value, if you are truly interested in what happened during the assassination of President Kennedy, you would be well advised to read The Warren Commission Report. This is, of course, a government document — and as such, it is much drier than much of the rest of what is out there. But it does lay out the events as they are believed to have happened, and it is a great supplement to any other books you may read on the subject.


A Cruel and Shocking Act:
The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination

Philip Shenon

A Cruel and Shocking Act

If The Warren Commission Report leaves you wanting more, Shenon’s insider account of the Warren Commission may be more your speed. Shenon maintains that the leadership of Chief Justice Earl Warren doomed the commission from the beginning, accusing him of being more interested in protecting the Kennedy family than in discovering the truth of what happened.


Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination

Jim Lehrer

Top Down

This novel focuses on two men who are haunted by their involvement on the day of President Kennedy’s death. Secret Service agent Van Walters feels responsible for JFK’s death after having allowed the bubble top on the presidential limo to remain down, thus exposing Kennedy to the gunfire that ended his life. In an attempt to renew her father’s will to live, Walters’ daughter Marti enlists the help of reporter Jack Gilmore to conduct a dangerous experiment to determine what might have happened had the bubble top remained up.


Dallas 1963

Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis

Dallas 1963

Many books have attempted to explain why people might have wanted John F. Kennedy dead, but few have focused on why Dallas in particular would be such a dangerous place for the president. With cinematic clarity, Minutaglio and Davis detail the characters and the polarizing ideologies that infested the city and caused so many to rightly caution Kennedy against taking his trip to Dallas.


Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery

Norman Mailer

Oswald's Tale

Although any number of conspiracy theories contradict the official story, the general consensus on President Kennedy’s assassination is that Lee Harvey Oswald was the gunman and that he acted alone. In Oswald’s Tale, renowned novelist and journalist Norman Mailer scours KGB and FBI transcripts, personal correspondence and more to discover just who Oswald really was and why he might have assassinated the president.



Stephen King


Jake Epping is a 35-year-old high school English teacher who has been given a unique task and opportunity: He must stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, Epping travels through a secret portal to the year 1958 in an attempt to change history. We know what will happen if he doesn’t succeed, but what will happen if he does?

For tweens and teens


The President Has Been Shot!

James L. Swanson

The President Has Been Shot!

Tweens and teens who want to know more about the Kennedy assassination on the 50th anniversary will be fascinated by James L. Swanson’s The President Has Been Shot! Swanson writes nonfiction in an incredibly engaging manner, giving background on the lives of both JFK and Oswald and supplementing the narrative with period photographs.

Kennedy’s life and presidency

Want to look back at Kennedy’s life on this momentous anniversary but don’t want to read about the assassination? We’ve got that covered, too.


Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

Robert Dallek

Camelot's Court

More interested in Kennedy’s presidency than in his death? Camelot’s Court gives a detailed look into the inner workings of the administration, particularly President Kennedy’s advisers — a team of rivals whose differences were often divisive and who had significant impacts on both the successes and the failures of the Kennedy presidency.


Jack 1939

Francine Mathews

Jack 1939

In Jack 1939, Joseph P. Kennedy is President Franklin Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain. His second son — John, who goes by Jack — is seemingly unremarkable. Roosevelt, however, sees something in the boy and deputizes him to help the U.S. discover just what the Nazis are up to.

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